tipgardner raised an interesting point on one of the older posts:
I know a fair number of published writers, best selling and otherwise, and I do find, more often than not, that they are more solitary, more socially fit to not fit, than many non-writers. ...
Or, as Lawrence Clark Powell said:
"Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of a writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking."
This excellent point appears to contradict my finding that published (and probably most amateur) writers are motivated to influence. If you want to influence, why are you hiding in your room?
Two reasons: (1) Desire to influence isn't the same as skill in influencing; (2) lots and lots of self-management. More after the cut!
The first point--desire isn't the same as skill--is apparently less than obvious. When I talk about the Influence motive under its academic name (the Power motive), people immediately say "I can't have that, I'm not power-mad" or they say "I don't have any power." Neither relates. The Influence/Power motive is about wanting influence, not having it. You can have someone strongly motivated, who works very hard at influencing, but is extremely bad at it, say because they lack the emotional intelligence or interpersonal understanding that would allow them to "read" their audience accurately.
I knew a colleague once who wanted to persuade me to join her wine-and-cheese club. She thought she was being subtle, but I realized at once she wanted more members to divide the costs; as a founding member she would pay less to bring in new people. I told her I wasn't interested, which I wasn't, not being a drinker at all. She pressed me, suggesting that this was a great way to learn about wine, presumably because she thought I was ignorant and thus afraid to join such a club. I declined again, saying I didn't really want or need to learn about wine tasting. Incredibly, despite my pretty clear denial, she tried again. I was forced to inform her that, due to family reasons, I did not drink at all, thus rendering a wine-and-cheese club sort of pointless! She certainly wanted to influence me, but she missed the signals I was sending her, which I assure you were not equivocal!
Now what does this mean for writers? Well, people who have a lot of this motive want to influence, and if they are unsuccessful they will get frustrated, and perhaps seek other ways to get the job done--like writing. Alternatively, you could be shy or introverted, and in that case Influence motive will work to push you away from public speaking. Why? Because you are more sensitive to making a mistake! The non-influence-motivated may not be aware of their impact, you see. So someone who wants to influence but is afraid of looking foolish may turn to writing, which after all is much more controllable.
Now the second point: Activity Inhibition is a characteristic that indicates your ability to manage your motives--the brakes for the engine. The average published writer in my study was WAAAAAY over the national average. The mean in the normal American population is 1.75; standard deviation is .25. That is, if you are 2.0 or greater on this measure, you are significantly above average, statistically speaking, and in fact are in the top 15% on this measure on the bell curve. 2.25, two standard deviations, should put you around the top 5%, and so on. The average published writer in my study had eighteen. So novelists, particularly, can sit alone in their offices because they can postpone the satisfaction a long time or channel the motivation in productive ways. They're not hiding in their offices because they lack the desire to influence--they just can keep from being impulsive about the way they do it!